Spanish language instruction will be dropped from the middle school curriculum in Brookfield-Lyons District 103 next year as officials continue to pare expenses to inch closer to balancing the operating budget.

At the March 29 meeting of the District 103 school board, the school board eliminated the position of Spanish teacher for the 2010-11 school year along with one of three intervention specialist positions at George Washington Middle School.

The layoffs are expected to save the district approximately $100,000 in its operating budget.

“If we were more financially healthy and it had kids’ interest, we’d continue it in the future,” said Superintendent Michael Warner said of the Spanish language curriculum. “I hate taking programs from kids, but we’re talking about a minimal number of kids and by taking it out, we’re not affecting too many students.”

For the past several years all six-grade students at George Washington Middle School were required to take Spanish. In seventh and eighth grade, Spanish is available to students as an elective.

According to Warner, Spanish classes “are languishing” in seventh and eight grades, where participation drops off dramatically after the sixth-grade requirement. In 2009-10, Warner said, there are 36 students taking Spanish. In eighth grade there are just 18. There are more than 200 students in each grade level at the school.

“We are very happy with our Spanish teacher; she does a good job,” Warner said, “but we recognize the low numbers there.”

Warner said the district officials recognized that Morton High School District 201, which serves most of the students in District 103, might be eliminating its foreign language department as a cost-cutting move.

“There’s concern about Morton not having a foreign language program to flow into,” Warner said.

The district also voted to release four other teachers, but Warner said those positions will be refilled for the coming school year. But with the district trying to reduce its operating deficit for 2010-11, the school board felt it necessary to eliminate two teaching positions.

The board is expected to lay off some teachers’ aides or other non-certified staff at its meeting April 26, Warner said. It is unclear exactly how many positions will be eliminated at that time, although the district appears to be looking at reducing the number of special education aides.

“We’re in the midst of that determination right now,” Warner said. “We’ll be going student by student and see how much time each IEP [individualized education program] calls for and match that with staff.”

The school board has asked Warner to cut $600,000 from the 2010-11 budget to get the district closer to a balanced budget. Cutting $600,000 next year will still leave District 103 with an operating deficit of $375,000, Warner said.

It’ll be the second straight year that the school board has cut $600,000 from the budget. The board eliminated 15 positions, including 10 teachers, at the end of the 2008-09 school year.